Rural businesses: Cluster and prosper

Julia Reischel in the Watershed Post:

National rural-issues website The Daily Yonder ran an article yesterday exhorting rural businesses to form “clusters” if they want to thrive. The thrust of the story is counter-intuitive — the author, Stuart Rosenfeld, argues that rather than competing for customers, similar small businesses operating near each other seem to attract more business for all. He cites Vermont’s booming sustainable agriculture economy as an example:

Though the second smallest state in population, Vermont stands head and shoulders above every other state based on its per capita concentrations of local farms, CSAs (community supported agriculture), organic farms, and farmers markets. This is important because groups of related businesses — clusters — are now thought to be essential for economic growth. Businesses are more efficient when they are clustered. Workers generally earn more. Related business clusters can feed off each other.

The last section of the article has tips for how to build a cluster. Food for thought for the Catskills, perhaps?

Agriculture is no longer just crops and animals in Vermont. Except for the largest dairy farms, economic survival and growth depend on rural families finding ways to supplement their income from the food they produce though other innovative market opportunities. They may offer weekend farm stays, start catering services, process their own foods, direct sales to local markets, create artisan products and brands or produce renewable energy by selling biomass, wind power, or operating methane digesters.

Read the entire story at Watershed Post.

Film looking for horse farm location

Th Hudson Valley Film Commission says a feature film looking to shoot this summer in the Hudson Valley region seeks a horse farm, “with a masculine/rustic looking home, a barn, stables/paddocks and smaller caretaker’s home. The house itself should have a rustic feel. It would also help if there was some type of water on the property, such a pond, brook or stream. Inside the house, there should be a very country feel–although they are willing to production design, the director wants a cinema verite look to the film. Ideally, a lot of wood trim, a darker color palette and a less modern look with more of a country feel to it.” Watershed Post says the films seems to be “Second Child,” by Chilean director Sebastian Silva, who won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2009 for “The Maid.” From an interview with Silva on Ion Cinema: “The title is ‘Second Child’ and it’s a fiction movie about an eight year-old boy who is gay and falls in love with his uncle during a family vacation. His family wants him to like his little cousin but he is more interested in his uncle.” Please email photo suggestions of locations with contact info to filmcommission@me.com

DEP opens public lands

From Watershed Post:

This just in from the DEP: The agency that polices New York City’s upstate watershed will open 12,000 acres of city-owned watershed land to recreation. A total of 71,000 DEP-owned acres in the New York City watershed are now open to the public, according to a press release from the agency.

The 71,000 acres includes approximately 30,000 acres of property designated Public Access Areas which were opened in the last three years, where public hiking, fishing, hunting and trapping is allowed without DEP permits. The remaining acres require a DEP permit for access.

DEC proposes new outdoor wood boiler regulations

The Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to new rules for outdoor wood boilers, with emission limits, siting requirements (distance from neighbors), stack height, and operating requirements for both new and existing boilers. The DEC proposes phasing out existing boilers by August 31, 2020. Written comments are accepted through 5 p.m., July 2, 2010 and should be directed to:
John Barnes, P.E.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Air Resources
625 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Albany, New York 12233-3251
Telephone (518) 402-8396
E-mail: 247owb@gw.dec.state.ny.us

Food movement passing upstate NY by?


From The Watershed Post:

The image above is a detail from a map from the USDA, showing growth and decline in farming between 2002 and 2007. Each red dot represents 20 farms lost during those five years; each blue dot is for 20 new farms. Read the entire article in The Watershed Post.

New York State trout season opens April 1

(The brook trout, left, and the rainbow trout, right, from DEC.)

From DEC:

“Trout season opens April 1 in New York State, and anglers can again look forward to a great year of fishing, thanks to the natural diversity of angling opportunities within New York and management of the state’s fisheries by DEC. Due to the existing snowpack and high flow in many of the state’s rivers and streams, anglers are urged to use extreme caution along slippery stream banks and while wading in high water. The early season is a great time to try some of the smaller tributaries. Smaller streams will have more manageable flows, and are also more likely to hold larger populations of wild trout. Although many of the larger, more popular streams are more reliant on stocked fish, last year’s relatively cool, wet summer promises plenty of holdover fish from last year’s stocking. Remember, everyone 16-years-old and over needs a valid fishing license to fish on any of New York’s waters. While children do not require a fishing license, adults who assist a child in taking or attempting to take fish, are considered to be fishing themselves, and therefore need to have a valid fishing license. Anglers and New York fishing tackle retailers are reminded that effective May 7, 2004, the sale of small lead sinkers weighing a half-ounce or less is prohibited in New York State. Selling jig heads, weighted flies, artificial lures or weighted line is not included in this prohibition. Although the law does not prohibit the use of lead sinkers of this size, anglers are encouraged to use non-lead alternatives which are readily available in tackle stores. Ingestion of lead sinkers can result in the death of loons and waterfowl. The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish. The open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through October 15, but there are exceptions in all DEC regions, so anglers should check the Fishing Regulations Guide before heading out. There are also new procedures for fishing New York City reservoirs. Updated information and permit applications can be obtained using the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) link below, or by calling NYC DEP at 800-575-LAND.”